Thursday, June 1, 2017

A Ride Down 30A

Yesterday, we had a hankering for a roadie trip to Sandestin for a lunch date at the Acme Oyster House.  We're in Panama City Beach for the week and haven't found a spot that meets our craving requirements,  Acme is only 45 minutes away, and the mental images of those chargrilled oysters just will not leave my head!

We arrived down here on Saturday and the traffic on 98 and all the side roads was bumper to bumper.  Yesterday's trip was a breeze, but once all the schools let out, it will be bumper to bumper again!

The food from Acme was wonderful!  Raw oysters, chargrilled oysters, and oyster poboys, with a few shrimp sprinkled here and there!  Our bellies were full, it was now time to head back to PCB.

Son#1 and his girly friend have not had the pleasure of a car ride down 30Aaaa, so a detour was in order.  In the old days, the only things to see were a bunch of scrub pines and a stop at the one destination on the loop, Seaside.  The roadway is still a two lane, but that is about the only thing that has stayed the same down this memory lane ride.

There is now a bike path that pretty much runs the length of 30A.  There are lots of eateries along the way, with green spaces dedicated as parking lots for all those bicycles that got to go somewhere!  The one destination of Seaside is now joined by multiple communities, and the only thing separating them are the road signs welcoming you to each community.

The view of all those scrub pines have been replaced with side roads filled with expensive beach houses and gated communities.  During our ride, there were only glimpses of the emerald green water, on the other side of all those homes.  The best part, people have built these same expensive houses on the other side of the road and no view of the gulf!

As we passed through Seaside, we could not help but notice how congested it was with foot traffic, bicycles, and golf carts.  We could barely see the food truck booths on the side of the road for all the people in front of them!

All these weekly residents of 30A were former visitors of Destin, Sandestin and PBC.  They left those destinations for the solitude, peace and quiet of 30A.  Sorry dudes! Those days are long gone!  You are still spending a fortune on your accommodations, plus the golf cart rental, and being elbow to elbow on your chosen spot in the sand!

Me, I'll stick with my regular locations, with beach cart and wagon in hand, and all the necessities to keep my beach queen happy.  "On the beach resorts" now take a back seat to the coastal parks that are practically void of wall to wall umbrellas and canopy tents.

Time for me to go claim our spot in the sand in PCB!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Beaching Essentials 2017

The thrill of beaching each year brings with it new innovations that bring more fun to the experience.  Some essentials will never change, but technology and new ideas keep adding to the fun.

Most resorts have access to chair and umbrella rentals.  When you go beaching as much as we do, bringing your own chairs and umbrellas can save you money in just a few visits.  We like the "Tommy Bahama" brand of chair.  The chair is built to hold up to 300 lbs, is wide and deep enough to comfort almost any normal sized human, including me!  For umbrellas, we prefer the lightweight "sportsbrella" umbrella.  You need to use an umbrella anchor, especially in windy conditions.  The plastic ones work great, and are very inexpensive.

Sportbrellas, chairs and cart

New Tommy Bahama chairs and the new wagon

Plastic Anchor

My latest addition to my beaching accessories is a power drill and an auger, for drilling out a hole in the sand for the umbrella anchor.  In just seconds you have a hole for your anchor and you just back fill with sand!  There have been many windy days where umbrellas just took off!

Dewalt is the drill of choice!

This year, I'm trying out a beach wagon, with wide tires.  The important thing to remember is to not overload the wagon, or you will be dragging that sucker through the sand vs pulling it!  I've been using a beach cart, but wanted to give a wagon a try.  We will be using both on an upcoming family trip, with extra hands to pull them!

My ice chest of choice is a Kelty.  I have two sizes and use them both.  They are soft sided, and have thick layers of insulation  that help keep ice in the cooler all day.  The Kelty is pricey, but REI occasionally marks them down, They are a whole lot cheaper and lighter to carry than Yeti type coolers.  I'm too dang cheap to even give the Yeti Hopper bag a try! Frozen margarita in ziploc bags are our favorite ice pack!

Kelty with Yeti Rambler

Kelty with Yeti Colster

When drinking chilled can drinks (beer!), the Yeti "Colster" can't be beat!  This little dude keeps the beer cold til the last drop.

We would be lost without our cup spike for holding our drinks.  These keep the sand away from the cup/can and most importantly your mouth!

Our latest addition has been bluetooth speakers.  We connect our favorite Pandora channels through our smartazz phones.  These small speakers put out plenty of sound, but don't disturb your neighbors.  Pandora puts very little drain on your battery.
Bluetooth speaker

For extra power, we bring along an external battery.  They work great keeping your phone charged and you can run your speaker off it, if by chance you didn't recharge it over night.
External battery

I hope you find this list to be useful in your planning your next beach trip.  I can't wait to find a few more items to "add to the list"!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Smartphone Activation EZ my Azz!

Well, the ole Samsung Note 4 began biting the dust last week, so I placed an order for a replacement phone thru the insurance plan.  This process took over 1.5 hours on the internet, after chatting with 1-800 India with AT&T and then the 1-800 Philippines with the insurance carrier.

The phone arrives with two day delivery.  Time to run through the process of moving from the Note 4 to a Galaxy S7.  With today's technology this should be a piece of cake!  I look at the new phone.  The back doesn't come off. What the heck????  I compare the simm cards and the newest one is smaller!  Oh boy, I can tell this is gonna be fun!

I do an internet search, to find that you push a provided pin into a whole and that pops our the bracket that holds the smaller simm card and the sd card.  Got it!  In they go!

Next, I do the Google backup from the cloud, from the old phone to the new phone.  After that was successful, I did the AT&T data transfer.  So far all my contacts and applications have made it over.  Winner!  Winner! Chicken dinner!

Time to activate the simm card with AT&T.  An internet search gets me to the right place, click I go!  Whoops!  AT&T does not recognize the phone as a new purchase.  Now you click the transfer to activate an insurance replacement phone.  Okee Dokee.  I get to the screen that asks you what phone you are replacing.  PROBLEM!  Internet link tells me to call 1-800-AT&T.  I get Joe the Plumber!  American English speaking dude, awesome!!!

Joe the plumber and I go through all the hoops, then he says, "you now need to restart both phones" for me to activate the new simm card.  WHAT????  Dude how are we gonna finish this????  Joe the Plumber tells me "you should have called in from a third phone".  You gotta be kidding me......

I finally ask Joe the Plumber if I can finish this process at a retail store.  Joe says "absolutely!"  Off I go to AT&T retail store.  So much for technology.  So much for 1-800 AT&T!  I get to the retail store, and explain my situation.  The salesman had the biggest grin on his face and says "no problem!"  He then proceeds to take the old bigger simm card out of the old phone, place it in a cutter machine,  chop chop!  He then inserts the newly sliced older simm card into the new phone, and says "all done!"  I'll be dang!  All that technology still hasn't replaced a Ronco Vegimatic veggie chopper!!!!!

Finally!  two hours later, I am back in business with a new working cell phone!  But wait!  I now need a new tempered glass and Otter box too!  It never ends.......

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Oh NOLA, Oh How I Have Missed You

Being owners of a timeshare, we get to go and stay at lots of our favorite places.  You have to plan ahead, often times 9-12 month out, but it has certainly worked for us.  Plans were made months ago for a visit to NOLA this Easter weekend.  This also worked out to be the spousal unit's birthday weekend.

We got a condo at the Avenue Plaza, on St. Charles, in the garden district.  The streetcar line stops just several yards for the front door. This is a great place to stay during Mardi Gras, if you can manage a reservation.   The goal this trip was to leave the car parted the entire stay until departure.  You can get an all day (24 hr) bus pass for $3, and its good for all the streetcar lines and buses throughout the city.

The spousal unit got enticed to attend the owner's update meeting with a $100 gift card.  It's their time to tell you how to get more out of your ownership by you giving them more money!  NOT!!!  The one hour time limit came and went, but finally we were out the door and streetcar, here we come!

We always try to do something different every trip.  This time, we are on discovery for some new eating establishments to add to our favorite list.  My friend Karlene had posted some pics at a french bakery, La Madeleine's Country French Cafe, months back and it had caught our interest.  It's located at the bend in the track in the Carrollton section.  One of our favorite finds in this area is a restaurant called Carrollton Market, also recommended by a friend.

This being the birthday girl's weekend, our next stop was Kendra Scott, on Magazine Street, for some bling bling!  The streetcar stopped at Nashville Street.  Time for a multi-block stroll to Magazine!  Its interesting to take time to look at the old houses in New Orleans.  In most, the living quarters are elevated, since the city is below sea level.  The green spaces are so limited, with the houses on top of each other, but the homeowners do a lot with what they have.  Flowerbeds have already been planted, and all the privacy hedges are trimmed regularly.  Its a big job to keep these old houses up, and if you look close enough you can find where paint is beginning to peel here and there.

We finally reach Magazine Street, and just two building down, there is our destination, Kendra Scott!  Armed with her $100 gift card, the spousal unit was ready to shop!  I found a chair in a corner by the door and quickly claimed it as my own.  The spousal unit was delighted with all the jewelry items on display, and I got all excited over all the eye candy manning the store!  These gals were working hard for their commissions.  Sitting in  the corner, I was able to spot all the security cameras that were mounted on the ceiling and walls, losing count after 15!  The eye candy had their routine in place.  When one would begin helping a new customer, another would work her way to the front hallway, to monitor the customers trying on the jewelry.  It worked like clockwork, one would move in for the kill (commission), and another would man the monitoring station at the hallway.  Spousal unit made her selections.  She made a comment about being here for her birthday weekend and they gave her half off on her most expensive item!  The bookkeeper in me smelled a big markup on the prices!

With bus pass in hand, our next stop was the Quarter. If you've got the time, you have to take a bus ride along Magazine Street.  The people that ride this bus route can't be found anywhere else .  I love striking up conversations with them because you never know where it will go!  We get off the bus at Canal Street and are headed to the red line streetcars when this couple that was on the bus, asks me how do you get to the French Market?  I ask, "do you have an all day bus pass?"  She says "yes! thank you Jesus!"  I reply "follow me!  But my name is Bill, not Jesus.  He comes tomorrow!"  We take the Red Line to the end of Canal, then on to the River Line.  We exit near Cafe Du Monde, and say goodbye and point out the next stop to our new friends.

Cafe Du Monde is a major tourist stop, with everyone wanting beignets, coffee or a coke.  There is always a line, either for a table, or for the takeout window.  Knowing a few secrets, we were seated and had our treats in minutes.  I began staring at this cutie pie in this dark blue dress.  As we left I told her I couldn't believe she didn't have any powdered sugar on her!

A walk around Jackson Square is always fun.  On a Saturday you can usually spot a bridal parade around the Square.  Its interesting to look at what some call art, some of it looks like paint splatters.  There are plenty of palm and tarot card readers to occupy some of your time.  I love listening to the sketch artists talk as they are putting the finishing touches to one of their renderings for tourists!

Time for dinner!  Unfortunately the place we picked out, Red Gravy, near the J.W. Marriott, closes at 2, so it will get a visit later in our stay!  We ended up at The Redfish Grill on Bourbon St.  Its owned by the Brennan family, so we knew it had to be good.  We went into the bar while we waited for a table.  We ended up being offered a seat at a table by a family from New Jersey.  They came for the Carnival Cruise.  I suggested some items that they might like to try off the menu, but made the mistake of telling them what was in it.  We did get the lady to try an specialty oyster, it was hilarious watching it go down!  The waitress said the funniest thing to her is the tourists that think boudin balls must be alligator testicles!!!!

There was this guy next to us, in a wheel chair, with a brace on his knee.  He was surrounded by friends, including a lot of pretty women, tending to his every need.  I commented, "you know, if I was in a wheel chair, with all these pretty women tending to my every need, I might have to take advantage of the situation!  Ya'll didn't notice that the knee brace was on his other leg before he went to the restroom!"  Those ladies looked at each other, and then the laughter exploded!

The ride back to Avenue Plaza on the streetcar brought more interesting people.  We loved the short little couple from Seattle, I swear he looked like a leprechaun!  He said he still hasn't found that pot of gold!  Turns out we were staying at the same place!  I invited them for a nekeed swim, they said, we could get arrested!  I said, not in NOLA!!!

Can't wait for what tomorrow brings!  Happy Easter!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 or bust!

I've been a fan of Amazon Prime for years.  Pay a fee up front, and get 2 day shipping for free.  If you haven't tried it you, once you do, you will be addicted in no time!

Walleyworld now has free shipping if you spend $35 or more.  Ok, I was game, and was needing some supplies for that condo in that town up north!

I downloaded the Walleyworld app, and a shopping I went!  Paper plates and bowls, ziploc bags, toothy paste, and velveeta!  Surely velveeta can survive a few days of shipping in the spring.

I checked out using my existing account info.  I get a confirmation email, indicating I can pick up most of my items at my local store and the other items would be shipped.  WTH???  I'm  thinking everthang should be shipped!!!

Ok, I figure, first time, there is always next time.  Today I'm driving by, and it registers "go thru the drive up pickup window"!

I pull up, and dial the number on the sign in the designated parking sport.  The lady on the other end of the line "I'm sorry sir, but this pickup line is only for grocery pickup."  Whoa!  What???  "You will have to come inside and go to customer service to get your items."  Me:  where is that?  Them:  "the back of the store."  Really???

I go park,  walk to the back of the store, and after showing the clerk my barcoded receipt, I had my items. The other items are scheduled for delivery next week.  Seems this store is having a lot of issues with the "pickup" option.

I'm planning on trying again.  With my new found knowledge, I'll be ready for round 2!  A bonus to going in, I got to spot several shoppers that qualified for those "People of Walmart" Facebook links!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

I'm the New 60!

Well, back in September,  I hit the magic number of 60!  But hey, I'm not your momma and daddy's 60, I'm the youngest of the young 60!  Or so I thought......

At my last doctor's visit, back in June, he said, well, "now that you will be 60, it's time for another colonoscopy! "  Good God!  Have 10 years passed by that quickly???

So, before the year was out, I scheduled and had my "procedure".  Forget the gallon jug, referred to as "go lightly", I'm all about the mini-prep!  Just 5 ounces of that awful stuff, plus a bunch of water.  I even took the time to read the side effects, a bunch of medical lingo, etc... and possibly of kidney stones.

Three days after the procedure, I'm at Home Depot, doing my grill assembly gig.  Then it hits me!  When you have had as many stones as I've had, you know the symptoms of kidney stones!   Fortunately I was able to handle the pain, and eventually it made it to my bladder.  Had to have been an itsy bitty one!

A few weeks later it was time for my sixth month checkup.  During the blood draw the dang tech had to stick me twice to hit a vein!  That has never happened to me before!  "Now that you're 60......."

In the Doctors office, I hear a knock at the door.  A young, attractive, 28, single "physician's assistant trainee" enters the room.  I know all that, because "at my age" I can get away with asking that!  She goes through all the lab work results, then she hits me with the big one!  "Now that you are 60, you need to consider the shingles vaccine, and the pneumonia shot, in addition to your annual flu shot".  I fired back, "whoa!  Let's back this up to 59.5!  I even told the Doctor about how mean she had been to me before he entered the room!

At home one night, I accidentally dropped my laptop, splitting the power supply port. I've never dropped my laptop like that before! No replacement part, had to move my stuff to another box, at a cost of $200!

Then, recently, I dropped my cell phone in the driveway.  In slow motion, I saw the phone pop out of its protective case, and land face down on the concrete.  Picked it up, yep, cracked!  Another drop, and another $200 to replace half the phone since I'm still under contract! Now that you're 60......

To make this 60+ thang worse, my boss had an 20+ yr old employee complaining about all the work he had scheduled that week.  The boss then proceeds to tell him about his 65 year old employee that does this and more without any help.  I said 65???  He said it sounded better than 60!

The next week I was in Roses, doing assembly.  I went to the cashier to buy a Powerade.  I noticed that she rang it up as a discount.  I'm  thinking, wow, she just gave me a 10% employee discount!  I then look at the ticket, and it was a senior citizens discount!!!  Wait a dang minute!  I do not feel that old!!!!  Now that you're 60.......

So, I feel like I'm the new 60!  Young at heart, and I can out build most of our new hires.  But at every opportunity,  the old 60 keeps raising it's ugly head!

I just hope I can make it to spring.  With that margarita machine of mine and that swimming pool at the Condo in that town up north, hopefully all those cute coeds can get me back into the "new 60 frame of mind!"

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Security! Special Order!

The spousal unit loves to shop.  One of her favorite stores is Macys.  Problem is, there isn't one very close by.  We either go to Memphis, Atlanta, or New Orleans for her to get her Macys fix.

Last year she couldn't wait for a trip, so she hit the internet and placed a Macys order and picked up a few items  she and my buddy Clarence were able to find.  The items arrived, just what she wanted, with one problem.

One of the tops that she ordered still had the security tag on it.  She was sceered to pop it off, for fear of a dye explosion.  And she knew better than to let me at it!  There was no way she was going to take it to Belk or Kohls to see if they could remove it.  She decided to just wait, and take it to one of the Macys stores on our next trip.

Lots of trips came and went, but she could never remember to bring that top with her.  Fast forward, one year later.

We are in the Macys in Kenner, LA, at the old Esplanade Mall.  The spousal unit takes her top to the checkout counter.  She tells them her story, bought online a year ago, and still has the security tag on it.

The Macys gals listen intently.  They look at her ID, they take her credit card, and then look at the security tag.  Their machine doesn't work on that kind of tag.  They updated their tagging system over six months ago!  They do mention that it doesn't have the dye pack in it, and we could have popped it off at home. (Remember, somebody wouldn't give me a shot at it!)

The Macys gals make a phone call to some dude in the Macys dungeon.  They explain the story to him.  The guy walks up, with a printout of the original online receipt. He says that he has one of the older tag removers in his office.  He grabs the top, and off he goes!

 The guy is covered in tattoos.  I ask if he is the maintenance man or something? The Macys gals reply "oh no!  He is the chief of Security!"  I replied "I bet he was tired of looking at cameras all day and was ready to get out of his box and stretch his legs!

The Macys gals got a good laugh out of that, replying "ha!  Not this time of year!"  Yesterday he busted a woman.  She entered the store wearing shorts and a tshirt and was trying to leave wearing three coats, claiming they were hers!

The Dude returns, with security tag removed.  Spousal unit is happy.  I told the Dude I'd be waving at him in the mirrors on future trips!

Dang!  A day in the life of Security!  Special order!